For disclaimer and notes, please see part one.

Previously, on the West Wing: Mallory arranges a night off for Sam. Josh manages to get into more trouble with the President before Air Force One finally lands in South Carolina.

With only enough time to throw their suitcases into their rooms, the President and his Senior Staff were on the road, heading out to meet with the South Carolinian governor. Mallory, Zoey, and her Secret Service detail were left at the hotel with a small envoy of cars.

"What time is dinner?" Zoey asked, watching the waves lap at the shore while Mallory unpacked her suitcases.

"I think it's at seven thirty, maybe eight. I forget exactly," said Mallory.

"And where is it we're going?"

"We're actually driving down the coast about twenty minutes or so—some place called Oliver's, like three beaches down," she said, closing a drawer. "Why?"

"So we've still got plenty of time this afternoon."

"Yup."

"What size swimming trunks do you think Sam wears?" Zoey asked, glancing at her.

"I am not buying Sam a Speedo," Mallory said.

"Why not?"

"I'd give the poor man a heart attack."

"If he's anything like my father or your father, he didn't bring any swim trunks," she said.

"Probably because he doesn't think he'll have the time for swimming."

"And that's really sad, don't you think? Him. The California boy..."

"Zoey," Mallory said.

"Yeah?"

"I know where he's from."

"He's probably a great swimmer..."

"Will you stop?"

"What am I doing?"

"You're trying to sell me on his goodness or something."

"He'd be a great catch."

"Did I or did I not tell you about my plans for tomorrow night?"

"Not in any great detail."

"Well, Speedos don't fit into the night anywhere."

"Skinny dipping?"

Mallory's eyes widened in shock before she got a far-off, contemplative look. "You know, I hadn't thought about that," she said quietly. A mischievous smirk occupied her lips. "Are we going shopping or what?"

~~~

Sam and Josh sat in on the boring meeting. Neither was really paying all that much attention to what was being said.

Sam leaned over and spoke quietly, "I can't believe you didn't tell me she was there."

"She told me not to say anything."

"She told you?"

"She gestured," corrected Josh.

"How much did she hear?"

"Do you really want to know?"

"Yeah... I'd like to know what I'm up against when I speak to her next."

"She heard pretty much all of it."

Sam winced. "Great," he mumbled.

"It's not like she heard anything bad, really."

"No, just that I'm in love with her."

"Well, you never said those exact words."

"I came close."

"What did she say after I left? It didn't seem like the two of you were there very long after I left."

"We weren't."

"What'd she say?"

"That she isn't seeing the hockey player anymore."

"That's good, right?"

"She threatened me with her stealthy flip-flops."

Josh sighed. "Well... I'm sure that everything'll turn out okay, buddy."

"And then, on the way to the hotel, she and Zoey burst out laughing for no apparent reason."

"You rode to the hotel with Mallory?"

"I thought she was in the other limo," he said.

"You can't hide from her while we're down here."

"Because we're riding to dinner tonight together... President Bartlet's orders—we're both to ride in the limousine with him."

"Well, you can't hide from her when we get back to D.C. either."

"I should have called her after the picture," he said quietly.

"Well... It's after the picture, isn't it?"

"A couple months too late," said Sam, shaking his head.

"Says who?"

"She dated somebody else. She told me she was—and I quote here—'totally pissed' about the picture."

"You and Laurie haven't done... anything... since that first night, right?"

"Right. We haven't. We've just been friends."

"And then you started dating Mallory."

Sam looked at his friend quickly, holding up one finger. "Once. We went out once."

"And then Laurie graduated and you went to congratulate her."

"Yes."

"And you did what friends do, right? A present and a hug."

"Yeah."

"And then?"

"And then *flash*, somebody took a picture."

"And then—"

"And then my chances with Mallory were over," he complained, letting his head fall onto the table.

"If you still want her, man, you gotta go after her," Josh said.

Sam lifted his head. "Go after Mallory?"

"Yeah. See if you can't get out of one of the 'fun' activities the President has planned—like the aquarium or the golfing afternoon—and take Mallory out to lunch... Do something fun. Take in a movie, go mini-golfing... There are probably more putt-putt places than Secret Servicemen here right now."

"But I'd have to talk to Leo, wouldn't I?" asked Sam. "I mean, to get out of one of those activities..."

"Well... Maybe you could plead your case to the President," suggested Josh. "See if he'd be open to letting you off to take Mallory out."

"It's worth a shot, right?"

"Absolutely," Josh said, clapping Sam's shoulder. "The worst thing he can say is no."

"No, the worst thing he can say is, 'Clear it through Leo.'"

Josh let out a slow breath. "Good point."

"Yeah," Sam muttered. "In which case, he'll tell me no."

"Think positively."

"Okay, I'm positive that, if I have to clear some time through Leo, he'll tell me no."

~~~

Mallory held a cottony white dress up to her body, looking at her reflection in a long mirror. "What do you think, Zo?" she asked, glancing back at the First Daughter.

Zoey shrugged.

"I'll take that as a no," Mallory said, putting the dress back on the rack. "I want to find something nice to wear when Sam and I go out..."

"Do you even know where you're going?"

"No," Mallory said. "I have to make reservations this afternoon sometime."

"We passed a California Pizza place on the way in."

Mallory rolled her eyes. "Yeah, but... I don't know. I want to go someplace nicer, someplace casually elegant, you know? Where Sam can wear khakis and a polo shirt as opposed to his suits... Where I can wear a nice, not overly formal dress. I want us to be comfortable because I think he might be uncomfortable when I abduct him from the motorcade tomorrow night."

"Why would he be uncomfortable?"

"Because we haven't been out in a while."

"Did the two of you ever go out?"

"Well... Once. Almost twice."

"Almost twice?"

"Technically almost a couple times but something always cropped up. Which is why I cleared it through Dad *beforehand*. Nothing is going to stop us tomorrow."

~~~

"Mr. President, could I possibly have a moment of your time?" asked Sam as the motorcade pulled up outside the hotel, the meeting with the governor having been completed some fifteen, twenty minutes earlier.

"Sure, Sam. What is it?" Bartlet asked.

"In private, sir?" he asked.

"Well, all right," Bartlet said, shooing Charlie, Leo, and Josh out of the limousine. Josh shot Sam an encouraging look as he climbed out.

"Sir, this is kind of strange for me to ask and I hope that you bear with me for a moment."

"We don't have to be anywhere for forty-five minutes. Take your time; what is it?"

"I know that Friday afternoon, you have the golfing round scheduled..."

"You want to get in on my group? I've promised spaces to Leo, Senator Shepard and Congressman Barnfield."

"No, sir. Actually... Actually, I was wondering if I could somehow not go golfing tomorrow..."

"Not go?"

"No, sir," Sam said, swallowing hard.

"Well... Any particular reason?"

"I'd like to... I'd like to take Mallory out tomorrow afternoon. Possibly a late lunch or something..." he said hesitantly.

Bartlet smiled. "Sure. Take off. You two kids have a wonderful time."

"Really, sir?"

"Yes. But don't tell anybody I'm letting you off. Toby'll ask to get out of going to the aquarium and Josh won't want to go dinner tomorrow. C.J. will want to get out of the wax museum thing."

"I won't tell anyone, sir," Sam said, grinning.

"Is that all?"

"Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. President."

~~~

As dinnertime approached, Sam was busy in his room, trying to come up with something that he and Mallory could do the next afternoon. A knock at his door made him abandon his tourist books and race to open it.

"Hey," said Josh. "We're loading up."

"Okay," Sam said vacantly. "I've got to get my jacket."

"Are you okay?" asked Josh.

"Why wouldn't I be?" Sam asked, looking under his suit bag on the couch.

"Well, because you're *wearing* your suit jacket..."

Sam looked down at his arms. "Oh. Okay. Let's go," he said, grabbing his room key.

"What's wrong? What did the President say?" asked Josh as Sam locked his room door.

"He asked me not to say," said Sam.

"Why?"

"Just because," Sam said, charging down the stairs. He stopped in mid-flight when he realized Josh wasn't with him. "You coming?"

"Yeah," Josh said, shaking his head. "I'm coming."

As they reached the motorcade, the President was just arriving as well. "Sam," called Bartlet, "come ride with me."

"Yes, sir," said Sam.

Josh started to follow his best friend when Bartlet spoke again, "Josh, why don't you ride with Leo? See that he's in a good mood about the wax museum thing by the time we get there, won't you?"

"It'll be a cold day in hell when I'm in a good mood about the wax museum thing," Leo muttered as he passed the President on his way to the second limousine.

"Looks like I have my work cut out for me," Josh commented.

Sam slid into the back of the limousine and saw Mallory. He smiled warmly at her. "Hi," he said gently as he sat down beside her.

"Hello," she said, returning his smile.

"You look lovely tonight, Mallory."

"Thank you."

Bartlet climbed into the back of the limousine. "So, Zoey," he said as the motorcade started moving. "Did you and Mallory find any great deals while you were out shopping?"

"Some," Zoey said with a nod. "I still think you should have bought that green dress, though, Mal."

Mallory shrugged then looked out the tinted window. They were passing an amusement park, the Family Kingdom. A large wooden roller coaster was obviously the main attraction. "I have to go there before we leave on Monday," she said.

"Go where?" asked Sam, hoping for a hint of something that they could do together the next day.

She pointed out the window and allowed Sam to lean close to her, so he could see. "Doesn't that look like fun?"

"Yeah, it does," he said. A sign announced their operating hours the next day. They opened at one, and tee times were at one thirty. He smiled as he sat up. "It looks like a lot of fun."

 

 

Stay tuned...

~Lines from the next installment: "You're stuttering again, Skipper."

Chapter 4

 

 

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